Steve Ballmer joins the $100 billion club after Microsoft’s stock gains give the ex-CEO’s wealth a big boost

Former Microsoft CEO & LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer.
Former Microsoft CEO & LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer.

A jump in Steve Ballmer’s net worth has landed the former Microsoft CEO a spot in the exclusive $100 billion club, spurred by gains for the software-maker’s shares this year.

Ballmer’s fortune has risen to a hefty $101 billion, making him the ninth person to reach that level of wealth, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires’ Index. The 65-year-old American businessman’s fortune grew by $20 billion this year alone.

Windows-maker Microsoft last month became the second US-listed company ever to hit a $2 trillion valuation, second only to Apple in reaching that milestone. Its shares have gained 25% year-to-date, outperforming tech peers Apple and Amazon.

A self-described “loyal dude” who still owns Microsoft stock, Ballmer is estimated to own a 4% stake in the company, or about 333 million shares, according to Bloomberg.

Ballmer, who joined Microsoft as its 30th employee in 1980, stepped down as CEO in 2014 after 14 years in the role. Over the years, he acquired a reputation in the tech community for being eccentric and high-energy.

He now owns the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, valued at $2.6 billion, and is involved in philanthropy with his wife, Connie.

Seven members of the $100 billion club have seen their fortunes surge this year, led by a rally in tech shares. Jeff Bezos, who stepped down as Amazon’s CEO on July 5, has gained the most. His net worth has risen above $200 billion, making him the richest person in the world.

The nine members of the elite club have together added about $245 billion to their wealth pile since the start of 2021, giving them a collective worth of $1.36 trillion, according to Bloomberg.

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Microsoft stock will climb to $300 as the company gains cloud market share, Wedbush says

Microsoft employees

  • Microsoft stock will climb to $300 per share, according to analysts at Wedbush.
  • Analyst Daniel Ives said “recent field checks” have made Wedbush believe Azure is gaining market share in the cloud business.
  • Microsoft saw total revenue growth of 17% year-over-year and cloud revenue growth of 50% year-over-year in its most recent earnings release.
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Microsoft stock will climb to $300 as the company continues to gain cloud market share Wedbush analysts said in a note to clients on Monday.

Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives lifted the firm’s price target for Microsoft to $300 from $285 after “recent field checks” in the industry have led him to believe Microsoft’s Azure cloud business is gaining market share from the competition.

Ives had already raised his price target for the tech giant to $285 from $275 after Microsoft outperformed in its latest earnings report, but recent updates have the analyst seeing even more upside ahead.

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Microsoft beat analyst revenue and earnings estimates for the quarter that ended in December on Jan 26, turning in record quarterly revenue of over $43 billion, up 17% year-over-year, and EPS of $2.03.

Analysts were most excited by the incredible growth of Microsoft’s Azure cloud business. The segment grew revenues by 50% year-over-year versus just 28% year-over-year growth at the company’s major competitor Amazon Web Services.

Now, analysts at Wedbush believe “the tide is shifting in the cloud arms race” and Microsoft is pulling ahead of Amazon’s AWS and others due to its broad installed base of customers.

“We believe Azure’s cloud momentum is still in its early days of playing out within the company’s massive installed base and the Office 365 transition for both consumer/enterprise is providing growth tailwinds over the next few years,” Ives said.

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Wedbush also believes cloud adoption is only going to accelerate in 2021 even after a record year in 2020 due to the pandemic and stay-at-home trends.

“Based on our conversations with CIOs, CISOs, and IT product managers globally over the last month we believe cloud-driven architecture IT growth in 2021 could surpass that of 2020 as more enterprises rip the band-aid off on digital transformations,” Ives said.

The analysts continued, “we believe this disproportionally benefits the cloud stalwart out of Redmond, as Nadella & Co. are so well positioned in its core enterprise backyard to further deploy its Azure/Office 365 as the cloud backbone and artery.”

Growing market share and prime conditions for Azure are probably music to the ears of executives at Microsoft. Especially after former CEO Steve Ballmer said he wished the company had got into cloud services sooner.

“Azure — I wish we probably started a year or so, two years earlier,” Ballmer said in a live stream on Clubhouse. “We started actually with platform as a service instead of infrastructure as a service. Probably we would do that a little bit differently. It cost us a little bit of time in the eventual battle, if you will, with AWS.”

Microsoft traded up slightly in premarket hours on Tuesday at $245.50 per share, implying a potential 22% price increase based on the Wedbush analysts’ predictions.

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Steve Ballmer said on Clubhouse that he wishes Microsoft had taken on Amazon’s cloud business sooner

Steve Ballmer Microsoft
Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

  • Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said he wishes the company invested in cloud-computing earlier.
  • Ballmer made the remarks on Clubhouse, CNBC reported.
  • Microsoft launched its first cloud products in 2008, two years after Amazon.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said he wishes he had invested in cloud computing earlier in his tenure at the tech giant, CNBC reported. Ballmer made the remark Thursday on Clubhouse, an audio-chat app, during a discussion that also included Sriram Krishnan, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, and Steven Sinofsky, a former manager at Microsoft.

“I wish we probably started a year or so, two years earlier,” Ballmer said, according to CNBC’s report. 

Microsoft released its first cloud products in 2008 before debuting Azure, its cloud-computing service, in 2010. By then, Amazon had been selling cloud services for four years.

Amazon Web Services, Amazon’s cloud-computing division, is the leader in the cloud-infrastructure market, earning a 32% share during the fourth quarter of 2020. Microsoft Azure was second, with a 20% share. No other company reached 10%.

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Cloud services have become a larger percentage of Microsoft’s business in recent years. During the company’s 2020 fiscal year, which ran from July 2019 through June 2020, its “intelligent cloud” segment accounted for 34% of the company’s revenue, up from 31% in fiscal 2019 and 29% in fiscal 2018.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s current CEO, ran the division at Microsoft that included its cloud business before replacing Ballmer in 2014. Nadella has also said he wished Microsoft had launched its cloud products sooner.

“We knew by looking at what Amazon was doing that we needed to reinvent ourselves,” Nadella said in 2017.

During the Clubhouse discussion, Ballmer said Microsoft was also too slow in its attempt to launch a phone. The company bought Nokia’s devices business in 2014, seven years after Apple released its first iPhone. By 2017, Microsoft said its phone-related revenue was “immaterial.”

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